Alaska Education vs Energy

Representative Zack Fields offers a positive new years message to kick off the new Alaska legislative session, but it does not address the moose in the room: In Alaska energy and education no longer support each other, they compete with each other. (New year brings energy opportunity for Alaska by Zack Fields)

That is, our Alaskan civic economy and our market economy are no longer working in a way to strengthen each other. In a healthy economy, a stronger civic economy creates the talent, space, and innovation that enhances the market economy. Likewise a vibrant market economy thrives on the benefits of the civic economy and fuels the investments in education, place, and opportunity.

The civic economy does what is valuable but not profitable, while the market economy does what is valuable and profitable.

Adapted from Agile Economy thoughts from the UNA Agile Lab and Dr Ed Morrison.

In Alaska our legislature will have to make hard choices about the trade-off of funding the state match requirements for the energy projects on top of the drain from the Willow/oil development tax credits or funding education, exacerbating the problem of investing in energy or education.

We need to disconnect energy and education. The connection worked for decades with rich returns on oil fueling our state’s economy and public civic services, but it’s now time to move on. We must be able to make good decisions for education and education independently rather than pit them against each other.

Yes, the moose in the room is our free ride in Alaska, and reluctance to pay individual taxes or pass-through business taxes and connect good jobs in Alaska to a good education.

A healthy civic and market economies depend on the strength and mutual benefit of each, not pitting them against each other as we will see in this session.


2/20 A high cost of living and lack of pension strain Alaska teachers. Would bonuses help keep them? By Becky Bohrer

2/18 The domino effect that could tank Alaska’s economy by Anchorage Daily News editorial board

2/16/24 If we want to improve Alaska’s schools, we need to invest in them by Ben Walker

2/13 Weakening public schools could make Alaska more like Hawaii. That’s not good by Jeannette Lee

12/4 60 cupcakes: A glimpse at school overcrowding in Alaska by Cody Chipp

1/12 Alaska opts out of federal program offering summer grocery money for families with kids. This article is a good example of the vicious cycle of decline, where cuts and limited resources lead to more cuts…

1/21 Alaska board of education lowers standard for student test scores, citing nationally high bar by Claire Stremple



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